Empty seats in the upper deck of Ralph Wilson Stadium, circa 2010. Photo by MattRichWarren, BuffaloRumblings.com.
Buffalo Bills CEO Russ Brandon has confirmed to The Buffalo News that the Bills won't be opting into the NFL's new blackout policy, wherein games with less than 100 percent non-premium ticket sales may be televised locally.
Per the report from Gene Warner, Brandon says that of the last six games at Ralph Wilson Stadium that did not sell out, only one exceeded the league-minimum 85 percent ticket sale threshold, meaning that five of those games still would not have been televised under the new policy.
Brandon also told Warner that the team believes that opting into the program would negatively affect their season ticket base, with more fans opting to forego tickets to watch games at home under the new rules. Add in the fact that the Bills were likely to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per year thanks to rules mandating higher contributions into the league's revenue pool after opting in, and you begin to see why Buffalo's participation in this program was always a longshot.
Proponents for buying into the rule, according to Warner, argue that local citizens and fans provide money for buildings and renovations that teams could otherwise pay for themselves, and that relaxing the blackout rule would be a fair trade for those hidden contributions.
If Brandon's statement that most Bills blackouts wouldn't satisfy the rule is true, however, then clearly the Bills don't have much to deliberate here. They'd be opting into a program that cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, most blackouts still wouldn't be televised, and the Bills would likely be forced into raising their league-low ticket prices to compensate for their financial losses. Until the Bills can sell more than 85 percent of tickets per blackout on a consistent basis, there really isn't a strong argument to make for the team opting into the league's new rules, in my opinion.
Is anyone out there truly upset by this decision on the Bills' part? You'll likely want to read the entirety of Warner's report (linked above) before deciding.
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